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Stuart Watters Is Making Sense Of Australian Independent Music

Stuart Watters Stuart Watters
With an extensive history within the Australian independent music scene and as the Indie-Con Australia Conference Programmer, Stuart Watters is a walking encyclopaedia about all things independent music.

Ahead of the first Indie-Con Australia being held over two days in conjunction with the 11th national AIR Awards later this month in Adelaide, Stuart has a chat about the conference.

How would you define independence?
For me it’s very simple: being in control of your own career and business path. In an Australian label or artist context though, it is critical that the ownership of the copyrights in the sound recording rest with an Australian-owned company.

What is the history of Indie-Con and how did Indie-Con Australia come about?
Indie-Con was started by our sister association AIM in the UK a couple of years ago and was specifically designed to help independent artists and labels to grow their businesses with a focus specifically on meeting the business needs of independent labels and self-releasing artists.

We thought that was a bloody good idea and wanted to create something that was specific in the Australian calendar along similar lines, so we approached AIM and proposed the development of Indie-Con Australia as a means to the first conference of its type in Australia that truly addresses the needs and issues affecting the independent music community in Australia.

What are the main goals for the conference?
Share inspiring stories and tools of the trade. The conference is being divided into two main elements: label-focused content and artist-focused content. We’re really trying to provide a conference that will enable attendees to gain insights into the latest innovations and technological advancements in products, services and strategies available to the independent music sector as well as providing professional development opportunities for the advancement of leadership and business development skills.

What are some of the highlights of the conference?
We’re doing a whole session on defining independence for our sector as this is an often contentious and hotly debated topic. This will be led by a keynote 'in-conversation' piece with Sebastian Chase who is arguably the godfather of the Australian independent scene.

We’re also doing a session on seeking out where the black box income lots are called ‘Where’s My F*cking Money?’. We’re also trying to fast-track the indie sectors’ fluency around blockchain technologies, so we’re bringing out one of the world’s foremost experts on the topic in George Howard to present and facilitate a panel called ‘What The Hell Is Block Chain?’.

We’re also covering off the various copyright trends that impact the indie sector and the music industry both local and internationally with a ‘State Of The Nations’ review. We’re also lucky enough to have Portia Sabin along who when she’s not running shit-hot indie label Kill Rock Stars, she’s also the curator of the brilliant music industry podcast The Future of What.

We’ve got Portia running a panel with 5 labels under 15 years old about their trials and tribulations and podcasting this to the broader international community. Very cool! We’re also looking at the rise of the artist-run label and stories of success and failure.

How can people get involved?
If they’re AIR Members, they’ll automatically receive an invite to attend the conference and we’re also going to be opening up the conference for non-AIR members to attend but these tickets are strictly limited, so it will be a first in first served.

Indie-Con Australia takes place at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute (Adelaide) 27-28 July.

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